From Platform to Publishing Success

Yet another blogger has capitalized on the popularity of her site to become a bestselling author.

The blogger, Deb Perelman, has a popular blog, Smitten Kitchen, and now a very popular cookbook for which she was apparently given an advance of $400,000.

What Perelman did, of course, is what many people are doing: she built a platform for her work, which found an audience – she cultivated that audience, and publishers took notice.

The New York Times article about Perelman added, “Transferring readers — even loyal ones — from a blog to a book is tricky business. Editors say there is no magic formula for knowing which bloggers have audiences that are invested enough in them to purchase an expensive hardcover when much of the material is available free online.” This is true – but then, there’s no magic formula at all in publishing, given that the vast majority of books are not successful. So editors really don’t know anything. They can perhaps convince the higher-ups that a successful blogger might be able to write a successful book, but there are no guarantees.

Still, someone with a platform that has attracted a considerable audience is perhaps a surer bet (if any bet is sure) than someone without one. And although Perelman is not building a business, as far as I can tell, other than her blogging and recipe writing, she is only doing what many other people are doing in this information age: giving it away.

People will return to your information once it’s in book form. You’re not wasting yourself by offering your wisdom to people without paying for it. That will come later: people will buy your book. And for the majority of businesspeople who write books, the book is just a stepping-stone to building a bigger business.

What Perelman’s success does point out is that it’s important to have a platform. She changed the scope of hers early on – from one about dating to her cooking adventures. You can, too, if you find that your initial approach isn’t working.

The important thing is to get out there and do it!

Or better yet, sit down and start blogging.

Bob Hughes
Author: Bob Hughes
Robert J. Hughes ("Bob") was a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal for over a decade, specializing in culture reporting. He was the paper's theater reporter, wrote on publishing, the art and auction markets, television, music, film and philanthropy, and reviewed books.
  • Cinde Johnson

    Great article, Bob! We tell our clients to blog their books! It’s great to see her success! Thanks for pointing it out to us! :)

  • Anonymous

    Delicious advice :)